By Dana Kozlov

CHICAGO (CBS) — He’s spent half a century on the front lines, fighting for civil rights.

Now, Reverend Jesse Jackson is fighting a very personal battle against Parkinson’s disease.

Jackson made that announcement today.

CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov talked with one man about how the disease has changed his life.

54-year-old Jim Kroeger is five years into his fight with Parkinson’s disease. He was diagnosed on December 16, 2013.

“I remember it very well. It’s etched in my brain like your birthday or the day you got married,” he says.

But Kroeger, an avid weight lifter, refused to let Parkinson’s consume him even as symptoms like stiffness and lack of mobility increased.

“That’s what tends to breakdown for people with Parkinsons,” he says. “Your brain tells you to do something but the body doesn’t respond.”

Kroeger says exercise has helped, something Reverend Jesse Jackson says he is embracing after announcing his battle with Parkinson’s.

“For me a Parkinson’s diagnosis is not a stop sign but rather a signal that I must make lifestyle changes and dedicate myself to physical therapy in hopes of slowing the disease’s progression,” Jackson says in a statement.

“I have several patients who are older and have had the disease for 20, 30 years and are still walking and able to communicate,” said Dr. Leo Verhagen of Rush University Medical Center.

Kroeger believes it best to push fear aside.

“You need some patience, you need some understanding and you need the will to fight and you need hope.”

Reverend Jackson is 76-years-old and says he noticed signs three years ago and was diagnosed two years ago.

You can find more information about Parkinson’s by clicking the link.